Legendary Game Designer James Ohlen Leaves Bioware After 22 Years

James Ohlen, one of the longest-working Bioware developers has decided to leave the company after 22 years. Although you might not know him by name, you probably know some of the games he has worked on. He worked as lead designer on Baldur’s Gate 1 & 2 and has also worked on titles like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age: Origins, Neverwinter Night, and most recently has played a major role in the development of Anthem.

In his Tweet, he explained that he loved his time at Bioware but that he wants to take a break from the gaming industry and focus his time on his passion instead, which is Dungeons and Dragons. Ohlen has also Tweeted that his time working on Baldur’s Gate was the best time he has had while working at Bioware and that he wants to be a part of “it” (Dungeons & Dragons) again. Together with some other people he has started his own venture called Arcanum Worlds, where they “build epic adventures for the world’s greatest roleplaying game.”

My guess is that he primarily left because he wanted to work on role-playing games. Bioware used to build epic RPGs before EA took them under their wing, after which Bioware’s games became less focused on role-playing and became more like action/adventure games. Anthem is obviously not an RPG at all, and EA might not want the company to ever make RPGs again. For someone as passionate about RPGs as Ohlen, this change in focus must have taken a toll on his enjoyment working for the company.

Although it is the end of an era for him, his talents for creating spectacular and immersive RPGs would perhaps be wasted while working on games like Anthem. He is certainly not sitting still after his departure from Bioware as he has already Tweeted out what he is working on at Arcanum Worlds. His venture is already working on a new book for Dungeons & Dragons, called Odyssey of the Dragonlords and he is working on it together with another employee of Bioware, creative director Jesse Sky as well as an unknown mystery writer.


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